Memory B-cell and antibody responses induced by Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite immunization

J Infect Dis. 2014 Dec 15;210(12):1981-90. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu354. Epub 2014 Jun 25.


Background: Immunization of healthy volunteers during receipt of chemoprophylaxis with Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites (CPS-immunization) induces sterile protection from malaria. Antibody responses have long been known to contribute to naturally acquired immunity against malaria, but their association with sterile protection after whole sporozoite immunization is not well established. We therefore studied the induction and kinetics of malaria parasite antigen-specific antibodies and memory B-cells (MBCs) during CPS-immunization and their correlation with protection from challenge infection.

Methods: We assessed humoral reactivity to 9 antigens representing different stages of the life cycle of P. falciparum by performing standardized MBC enzyme-linked immunospot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays on peripheral blood mononuclear cells and plasma samples from 38 Dutch volunteers enrolled in 2 randomized controlled clinical trials.

Results: MBCs and antibodies recognizing pre-erythrocytic and cross-stage antigens were gradually acquired during CPS-immunization. The magnitude of these humoral responses did not correlate with protection but directly reflected parasite exposure in CPS-immunization and challenge.

Conclusions: Humoral responses to the malarial antigens circumsporozoite protein, liver-stage antigen-1, apical membrane antigen-1, and merozoite surface protein-1 do not to predict protection from challenge infection but can be used as sensitive marker of recent parasite exposure.

Clinical trials registration: NCT01236612 and NCT01218893.

Keywords: Plasmodium; antibody; immunization; malaria; memory B-cell; protection; sporozoite.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Immunization / methods*
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Malaria Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Malaria Vaccines / immunology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology*
  • Sporozoites / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Malaria Vaccines

Associated data